Inglewood Partition Lawyer

The City of Inglewood is located in Los Angeles County, and is known for the Forum, which was the home of the Los Angeles Lakers for many years, and more recently for So Fi Stadium, which is the home of the Los Angeles Rams. The Inglewood housing market is somewhat competitive. Homes in Inglewood receive 1 offers on average and sell in around 40 days. The median sale price of a home in Inglewood was $708K last month, up 0.4% since last year. The median sale price per square foot in Inglewood is $536, down 7.3% since last year. When jointly owned real estate becomes too much of a problem, many people have found that a partition action can be a good solution. At that point, a Inglewood Partition Lawyer can be of great assistance. Generally, a partition action to be the best remedy for disputing co-owners in four broad categories:

  • Split ownership real estate dispute;
  • Brother-Sister real estate dispute;
  • Investor-Investor real estate dispute; and
  • Significant other real estate dispute
What is a Partition Action in California?

Generally, partition is any division of real property between co-owners, where each co-owner obtains an ownership interest. A partition action is the forced sale of real property by a co-owner under the court’s supervision. Partition merely determines and allocates to the parties their respective interests in the property. (Cunha v. Hughes (1898) 122 Cal. 111.)

In the partitioning of property, the common interests in the property are segregated or terminated. (Summers v. Superior Court (Wan Fen Tan) 24 Cal.App.5th 138.) Partitions are generally favored by the and may occur by an agreement between the co-owners or by a judgment in an action. Typically, a partition may be made by either a physical division or sale of the property. in many modern transactions, a partition of the property by sale is preferable since often times, a division of the property will result in parcels that are not equal to the value of the whole property before the division. (Cummings v. Dessel (2017) 13 Cal.App.5th 589, 597.) Also, a “physical division may be impossible due to zoning regulations or may be highly impractical.” (Butte Creek Island Ranch v. Crim (1982) 136 Cal.App.3d 360, 365.) The best Inglewood Partition Lawyer will be able to share information on this process with you.

What are the steps in a Partition Action?

Generally, the first step in the partition lawsuit process is not a lawsuit, but an earnest attempt to resolve the matter informally, such as through a partition agreement. Only when it is clear that litigation is the only option, is it clear that a partition lawsuit is appropriate.

When it is clear that a partition lawsuit is necessary, then the process begins with the filing of a complaint in the county where the property is located. There are several technical requirements for the partition complaint, and many important steps that must be taken during the lawsuit to ensure that the process is managed effectively.

In a partition lawsuit, there are generally four different steps. First, the court determines each party's ownership interests. Second, the court will decide on the manner of sale. Third, the court will order the property be sold. Fourth, the proceeds from the sale will be divided between the parties based on their relative contributions to the property.

While some may believe that inherited property cannot be partitioned, this is incorrect. Instead, when the property is owned as the result of an inheritance, there may be an additional step for an appraisal, and a right of first refusal, as provided by the Uniform Partition of Heirs Act. Under this act, where a co-tenant requests partition by sale, the law gives the non-partition owner the option to buy all of the interests of the co-tenants who requested the sale. A top Inglewood Partition lawyer will be familiar with the process.

Can you mediate a partition action?

Generally, anyone considering filing a lawsuit should consider all of their alternatives, including an informal resolution of the problem. This can take the form of a discussion with the other owner or owners about agreeing to sell the property, negotiating with the co-owner to create a formula to divide the proceeds from the sale, or retaining a lawyer to engage in a mediation with the other owners.

Throughout the partition process, and even on the day of trial, any of the owners can make an agreement about the sale of the property. This can happen through a phone call, through negotiations between the parties' lawyers, or through a mediation session with a retired judge or trained mediator. There are many benefits from a mediation session, including confidentiality provisions contained in the law in Evidence Code sections 1115 through 1129.

Specifically, Evidence Code section 1119, subdivision (a), provides "no evidence of anything said or any admission made for the purpose of, in the course of, or pursuant to, a mediation or a mediation consultation is admissible or subject to discovery, and disclosure of the evidence shall not be compelled in any arbitration, administrative adjudication, civil action, or other noncriminal proceeding in which, pursuant to law, testimony can be compelled to be given." A knowledgeable Inglewood Partition Attorney will be able to give you good advice on these issues.

What are claims for “contribution”?

Under the law, a property owner can make a claim for contribution for anything that they have expended for the common benefit of all the parties as it relates to their jointly-owned property. Code of Civil Procedure section 874.410 states that “the court may, in all cases, order allowance, accounting, contribution, or other compensatory adjustment among the parties according to the principles of equity.” For example, the credits can include expenditure in excess of the co-tenants fractional share for necessary repairs and improvements that enhance the value of the property. (Wallace v. Daley (1990) 220 Cal.App.3d 1028, 1035-1036.) Similarly, payments for interest, taxes, and insurance made by any co-tenant could be the subject of a reimbursement claim. (Hunter v. Schultz (1966) 240 Cal.App.2d 24.) An experienced Ingelwood Partition Attorney will be intimately familiar with these matters.

A Partition Case Study: Dilonell v. Colby (2022)

Bids in private sales of real property must be in writing and timely deposited. (Code Civ. Proc., § 873.680, subd. (b).) While these are relatively simple requirements, it’s advisable that the format of an offer for property be written in a clear and understandable manor with specific terms or details captured in writing. Sometimes, what an individual considers obvious or unnecessary to include in a purchase offer for a property may not align with what a court deems should be clearly stated in writing. Minor details written or omitted in a purchase offer for property can have significant implications in property disputes both in and outside the context of partitions. Dilonell v. Chandler (2022) 2022 WL 854908 provides an example in the paragraphs below.

In Dilonell, there was an appeal from an action that had originally begun in 2017 by plaintiff Alice Jackson, who sought partition by sale of a five-unit residential rental property in Inglewood. Jackson owned a 50 percent interest with Suzanne Chandler who owned the other 50 percent interest. Jackson and Chandler’s relationship soured in 2016 over disputes concerning the payment of taxes and maintenance expenses. Chandler and Jackson agreed to sell the property for $800,000. Frida Dilonell, Jackson’s successor-in-interest, made a full price offer on the property.

Despite beginning the sales process, Chandler ultimately cancelled the transaction. In 2017, Jackson filed a partition cause of action against Chandler to compel the sale of the property. Jackson substituted Dilonell as the plaintiff in 2018 after fully transferring her interest to Dilonell. Chandler brought two motions to have a partition referee appointed to list and sell the property, but the court instead ordered that the parties appoint a neutral broker to list and sell the property. The order stated that if one of the parties is the successful purchaser, then that person need only close the escrow with one half of the agreed to sales price but all other expenses of the sale shall be paid equally by the parties.

The property was listed in 2019 for $1.5 million, and Dilonell offered $515,000 which equated to a $1.030 million offer considering her 50 percent interest. Chandler rejected the offer, and the court granted her extension to extend the listing period until January 2021. However, after January 2021, the court ordered that the highest outstanding offer was to be accepted. Following discussions at a status conference on January 19, 2021, the trial court issued an order on January 25, 2021.

The order stated that during the conference, Dilonell disclosed that a third party had made an offer of $1,050,000, while she herself had made an offer of $1,055,000 ($527,500 for Chandler's 50 percent interest). The Plaintiff provided a written purchase offer to Chandler for the property, but it did not specify that it was solely for Chandler's interest and only listed $527,500 as the offer amount. Therefore, the trial court determined that the highest offer as of January 1, 2021, was the third party’s offer, which the parties were ordered to accept.

Dilonell alleged that the trial court abused its discretion in finding that her purchase offer of $527,500 was an offer to purchase the entire property. Dilonell alleged that listing Chandler as the only seller when she only owned a 50 percent interest made it unnecessary to state that she was only buying Chandler’s 50 percent interest given the understanding between them. However, the Court of Appeal for the Second District rejected that contention reasoning that when a written offer is accepted, a contract is formed and the terms of the written offer will control. Therefore, the trial courts finding that $527,500 was the full offer amount for the property was reasonable.

Dilonell then alleged that the trial court abused its discretion because its ruling failed to protect her property rights by forcing a sale to a third party. The Court of Appeal rejected this argument because the sale of interest in the property was the relief sought by Dilonell’s predecessor in interest, Jackson, the original plaintiff. Jackson had alleged that a physical division of the property was not feasible and she sought partition of the property by sale. Because Dilonell did not seek leave to amend the complaint to request other relief, such as the physical division of the property, the sale was requested by Dilonell. The sale was therefore not forced.

Dilonell also contended that requiring her to specify that her offer was for Chandler’s 50 percent interest is inconsistent with the with the partition statute. Dilonell contended that the partition statute only required an offer to be in writing and timely deposited, which her offer satisfied. (Code Civ. Proc., § 873.680, subd. (b).) However, the Court of Appeal disagreed because the trial court did not require her to state she was making an offer for the 50 percent interest.

Instead, the trial court interpreted Dilonell’s offer to be for the property, instead of the fifty percent interest, because the terms of her offer were not easily understandable. The Court of Appeal asserted that nothing in the partition statute excuses a party from making the terms of their offer clear and understandable. Additionally, Dilonell alleged that that the partition statute required the court to prioritize the benefits to the parties, which equates accepting the highest price offered. The Court of Appeal rejected this contention for two reasons. First, that provision only applies to sales by a partition referee which was not applicable here because the sale was conducted by a private broker. Second, the benefit to be prioritized would have only accrued to Chandler, who was the seller and did not objected to the third party offer.

For the reasoned states, the Court of Appeal ultimately rejected the Dilonell’s appeal and affirmed the sale to the third party.

How the Underwood Law Firm Can Help

If you are considering partition as an option, seeking legal advice on how best to initiate a complaint or defend a partition action may be beneficial to achieve a desirable outcome. For an initial consultation, please contact Underwood Law Firm, P.C.

Learn more here.

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